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Midnight Winds on Tour in Poland

April 16th - 27th 2008

The City of Lodz Office 2008-04-18
"The Wind From California"

"Midnight Winds", a woodwind quintet from California, will give concerts in Poland from 16 to 27 April. In Lodz, the musicians will perform on 18 April (in the Museum of Lodz History, Poznanski Palace), and on 22 April in the Mirror Hall of the Technical University of Lodz (266 Piotrkowska Street).

An additional, concert will be held in the Henryk Wieniawski Music School on 17 April, and 2 days later the ensemble will perform in Konstantynow Lodzki.

"The Midnight Winds" draws on different cultures. They perform pieces of music that feature elements of fusion, mixed media, performance art and present innovative interpretations of classical music. The ensemble participated in numerous music festivals and took part in education projects. 

The group consists of Polish and American artists living in Los Angeles, the graduates of the University of Southern California. The concert of this international ensemble appears to bea harbinger to the cultural collaboration between Los Angeles and Lodz, the two cities plan to establish as sister cities. (kz)




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Article Launched: April 6th 2008
Young musicians to show talent at event offered by Shumei council
By Robert D. Thomas, Correspondent

Consistent with its mission to foster music opportunities for young people, the Shumei Arts Council will present its second annual Clyde Montgomery Concert on April 13 at 2 p.m. in the Shumei Arts Center. Named in honor of a long-time board member who died in 2006, the free concert focuses on young musicians who are pursuing concert-music careers.

"We were really pleased with the first concert last year," said Shumei's executive director Jane Imai, who has been with the organization for 22 years. "We followed the same pattern in building the program this year."

That included consultations with Peter Marsh, director of string chamber music at the USC Thornton School of Music; Ronald Leonard, conductor of The Colburn School's Chamber Orchestra and former principal cellist of the Los Angeles; and officials of the Junior Chamber Music Society.

"I'm not a musician," said Imai (her background is in visual art, specifically textiles). "These people are invaluable in finding the right musicians for this program."

Marsh remembers their first conversation.

"Janie wanted to start something up in music," he recalled, "so she came to one of our school's `marathons' and asked, `Who should I listen to?' I and others helped in the planning but she's really the driving force."

Among the pieces on Sunday's program will be the world premiere of "Metaphors and Contrasts for Woodwind Quintet," composed by four-time Emmy Award winner Stephen Cohn for "Midnight Winds," an ensemble of students and graduates from the USC Thornton School of Music (the group's name was a natural because the players - Amy Tatum, flute; Alison Lowell, oboe; Andrew Leonard, clarinet; Maciej Flis, bassoon, and Kristina Orcutt, horn - came together in late-night gatherings beginning in 2000).
"This concert honors the spirit of Clyde in ways that I believe would have thrilled him," said Imai. And all of this in a 308-seat hall of which guitarist Isamu Nakashio once said, "The sound of this hall reminds me of playing at Carnegie Hall."

Polish Music Newsletter, Vol. 13, No. 12.  December 2007
Los Angeles, CA

By Krysta Close

On the evening of November 8th at 7:30 pm in downtown Los Angeles, the lights were shining brightly on the stage of Zipper Hall and the audience was abuzz. There was a palpable excitement in the air for the event about to commence: a celebration of Poland’s Independence Day organized by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles. The festive evening began with the Polish and American national anthems, performed gracefully by Midnight Winds: Amy Tatum, flute; Alison Lowell, oboe; Andrew Leonard, clarinet; Maciej Flis, bassoon, and Kristina Orcutt, horn.

Paulina Kapuścińska, Poland’s new Consul General in Los Angeles, opened the official part by welcoming a large representation of the diplomatic corps, Polish Army veterans, and an overflowing audience composed of the émigré community and their numerous American friends. In her brief remarks, Consul Kapuścińska spoke of the importance of November 11 in the modern history of Poland and bestowed a Gloria Artis medal, given by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Poland, upon Marek Zebrowski, Director of the Polish Music Center at USC and a co-organizer of the evening’s events.

The main attraction of the evening, however, was the program of Polish film music. The Midnight Winds and USC Strings were joined on stage by a cast of celebrities, including the double bass virtuoso, Darek Oleszkiewicz, the renowned vocalist, Anna Jurksztowicz (pictured at right), and Maestro Krzesimir Dębski, the acclaimed composer, conductor, violinist and pianist. The varied and entertaining presentation began with the wind quintet arrangement of Paderewski’s famous Menuet, and was followed by Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor performed by cellist Lars Hoefs and pianist Marek Zebrowski. Immediately afterwards, the entire ensemble came on stage for a performance of Urodziny [Birthday Music] by Dębski, sung by Anna Jurksztowicz under the direction of her husband and composer.

The musical feast of high-quality entertainment followed as Dębski (pictured at left)—with his mixture of good-natured humor and engaging stage presence—introduced several selections of his own music from feature films and TV serials. Anna Jurksztowicz, a charming and excellent vocalist, gave lively and heartfelt interpretations of Dębski’s hit songs from The Clan, Lonely Hearts, Cantabile—They Came at Dusk, For Good and Ill, finishing with Helena’s SongOgniem i mieczem that brought the full house to its feet in a prolonged standing ovation.

Between Dębski’s award-winning film scores, other Polish film composers were also represented on the gala concert’s program, and each piece presented the audience with a lively collaboration from the exceptional musicians. Krzysztof Komeda’s Lullaby from Rosemary’s Baby was given a beautifully lyrical reading by the ensemble after a virtuoso double bass introduction by Darek Oleszkiewicz. The delicate and haunting melody deftly rendered by percussionist Daniel Kaminski on a glockenspiel was artfully ornamented by Dębski’s violin solo improvisations. One of Henry Vars’ great 1930s hit songs, Na pierwszy znak, was stylishly delivered by the entire ensemble. Members of the Vars family—his son Robert, daughter Danuta and grandson Dennis—were present at the Independence Day concert. Two short piano compositions from film scores by Marek Zebrowski further added to a highly entertaining musical fare. The evening was capped by an appropriately-titled encore, Good Night, touchingly delivered by Anna Jurksztowicz with her husband, Krzesimir Dębski, accompanying her on the piano. A long and hearty applause followed the performers all the way to the post-concert reception, hosted by the Consulate and POLAM Federal Credit Union. All in all, it was a fitting tribute to Poland’s national holiday, and a night to remember for a long time to come.

Polish Music Newsletter, Vol. 13, No. 10.  October 2007
Los Angeles, CA


After an absence of eighty-four years, Paderewski’s towering figure once again graces the campus of the University of Southern California. On 22 February 1923, Paderewski was recognized at a special ceremony with the honorary doctorate by this prestigious university. At 5 p.m. on 4 October 2007, the official unveiling of the Paderewski monument took place at USC, in front of a crowd of 200 patrons of the monument project, university officials, and other guests. The Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Janusz Reiter, and the Consul General of Los Angeles, Hon. Paulina Kapuścińska, represented Poland’s government on this distinguished occasion. The First Lady of Poland, Maria Kaczyńska, the project’s honorary patron, was unable to attend the unveiling due to a commitment to the Paralympic athletes competing in Shanghai, China. USC officials, including the Dean of Music, Robert A. Cutietta, and the University Provost, C.L. Max Nikias, also attended the ceremony and gave touching tributes to Paderewski’s legacy at the University and in the world. Musical accompaniment for this festive occasion was provided by the Midnight Winds, including a performance of Paderewski’s most famous composition, the Menuet op.14

Polish Music Newsletter, Vol. 12, No. 9.  September 2006
Los Angeles, CA
"Last March, the Polish Music Center in cooperation with the Park La Brea events featured the Midnight Quintet at a concert for the local community of residents. The choice of music for this group of USC students included—among other works—the Quintet for Winds by Tadeusz Szeligowski. This performance was certainly an American premiere, and the audience was not necessarily composed of the usual group of devoted concert-goers. Yet, this unfamiliar work received a tumultuous applause, earning the Midnight Quintet an invitation to return to Park La Brea later this year. Aside from the fact that not many Poles can recognize the name of Tadeusz Szeligowski (1896-1963), he is a completely unknown composer to an American audience. Yet Szeligowski was a fairly popular neo-classical composer who wrote numerous chamber works, concertos, and operas. In fact, when Szeligowski's distant cousin in Poland was telephoned on the day of the concert and told about the performance in Los Angeles, California, he was overcome with emotion and gratitude for bringing back his relative's name to the concert stage."

Polish Music Newsletter,  November 2006
Los Angeles, CA

Irena Glowacka-Lawyer and the Polish Club of Laguna Woods presented a special concert on October 29, 2006 in the Clubhouse 3 Auditorium of Laguna Woods Village. It featured works by Grazyna Bacewicz, Frederic Chopin, Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, and Tadeusz Szeligowski. The performers included soprano Krysta Close, the Midnight Quintet, and pianist Marek Zebrowski.

The afternoon concert began with a selection of charming songs for voice and piano by Karlowicz. This late-romantic and intimate music set to fin-de-siecle Polish poets was presented by Ms. Close and Mr. Zebrowski.

The Midnight Quintet—a group of Thornton School of Music graduates—is a young and already widely recognized ensemble. Heard in the Sedona Chamber Music Festival last May, the Midnight Quintet has since performed throughout Southern California and are scheduled to appear in concert on the East Coast and in Mexico. For this concert, the group gave a lively and musically engaging interpretation of wind quintets by Bacewicz and Szeligowski. Dating from the mid 1930s and the early 1950s respectively, these compositions represent the Polish neo-classical school with its mordant harmonies, sparse musical gestures, and witty woodwind writing. Requiring considerable virtuosity and great ensemble playing, these two quintets are rarely heard, even in Poland. The Midnight Quintet's excellent understanding of this music and their technical prowess came to the fore in both the Bacewicz and Szeligowski, giving the audience a chance to admire the virtuosity of Amy Tatum, flute, Kate Green, oboe, Andrew Leonard, clarinet, Kristina Orcutt, French horn, and Maciej Flis, bassoon.

The concert concluded with Marek Zebrowski's performance of Andante spianato et Grand Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22 by Frederic Chopin.

Original Link: http://www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/news/nov06.html



Polish Music Newsletter

June 2006, Vol. 12, No. 6. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, University of Southern California



Continuing the spotlight on Polish musicians affiliated with the USC Thornton School of Music and the Polish Music Center, we are happy this month to present Maciej Flis, another spectacular young talent from Poland and a truly fascinating personality.

Maciej was born and raised in Lodz. His musical education began with the studies of piano at the age of seven, changing to the bassoon at the age of fourteen. After his primary and secondary education, Maciej studied with a noted bassoon virtuoso and conductor, Professor Krzysztof Kamiński at the Bacewicz Academy of Music in his native Lodz, and graduated in 2003 with a Master of Arts in Bassoon Performance.

Already during his studies Maciej performed with the Rubinstein Philharmonic Orchestra in Lodz and participated in numerous festivals in Poland and abroad. After one such performance at the Bayreuth Festival in 2001, Maciej was invited by then USC Dean of Music Larry Livingston to participate in the 2001 Idyllwild Summer Festival. This led to Maciej's audition and his winning of the Flossie Meline Oliver Pieper Music Scholarship at the University of Southern California. At first Maciej worked with a bassoon legend, Steven Maxym; later with the highly esteemed Professor Judith Farmer. Completing his American education studies with a perfect academic record, Maciej was awarded a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Studies in 2005 and had since then been an active performer and teacher in the Los Angeles area.

Shortly after arriving in California in 2002, Maciej was offered the position of co-principal with the American Youth Symphony, and has performed with this orchestra ever since. In addition to his orchestral playing, Maciej has made numerous solo tours of Germany, United States, and Poland. The long roster of symphony orchestras and conductors Maciej has worked with in the past few years includes the Pasadena Symphony, Brentwood Symphony, Downey Symphony, Saddleback College Orchestra, Culver City Chamber Orchestra (including Sony Pictures Entertainment for the 2003-2004 Children's Concert Series) and such towering musical personalities as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sergiu Comissiona, Larry Livingston, John Williams, and Carl St. Clair.

Maciej Flis also had the privilege of performing with world-famous soloists and ensembles, including Yo-Yo Ma, Norman Krieger, Yefim Bronfman, and The Wayne Shorter Quartet, among others, and appeared on stage at Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Royce Hall, and Colburn School of Performing Arts. Maciej is often invited to participate in recording sessions for all major film studios, including 20th Century Fox Studios, Paramount Pictures Studios, and Warner Bros. In addition to numerous public radio broadcasts, Maciej's recorded performances include the In Session CD of the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra (made at the 20th Century Fox Newman Scoring Stage in 2004), and a program of works by Mozart with the Lvov Chamber Orchestra, dating from 2001. Most recently, Maciej participated in the 75th Anniversary Gala Celebration of the USC School of Cinema and Television, hosted by Steven Spielberg and attended by such celebrities as George Lucas, Frank Pierson, Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard in 2005.

Currently Maciej Flis performs with the Midnight Quintet, a wind ensemble group founded in 2003. Recently the Quintet won the 2006 USC Educational Outreach Fellowship Award and gave several concerts at the Chamber Music Sedona Festival in May of this year. The Midnight Quintet's week-long residency in Arizona included performances at local schools and benefit concerts. This summer, the Quintet will appear in the Arcosanti Chamber Music Series and participate in the two-week Idyllwild Chamber Music Festival in California. In the coming months, the Quintet is also making plans for a CD of music by American and Polish composers.

Maciej Flis has recently been awarded a scholarship from the California Institute of the Arts that will enable him to continue studying music in the United States. Maciej's future goals include winning a seat in one of the major American symphony orchestras and continuing to play on recording sessions for various film studios. Maciej's hobbies include travel, photography, and aviation—he is currently training to receive his private pilot license.

Perhaps the best summary of Maciej's musical accomplishments comes from some of the professional musicians who worked with him in the past few years. According to Prof. Livingston at USC: "In every way, Maciej is a superb young artist. He has a lovely tone quality, fine technique, and an unusually keen mind. In my career spanning more than forty years in the profession, I have had the opportunity to work with literally hundreds of talented young musicians. I would rate Maciej in the top 5 percent of that group." The composer and conductor Patrick Williams summed-up Maciej's talent as follows: "I wish to state for the record that Mr. Flis is clearly and unambiguously one of the finest and most extraordinary of emerging professional musicians in the music industry. [...] I can state, without hesitation, that he is the great asset to the industry."

The Polish Music Center is very pleased to have Maciej perform on several occasions in concerts that we've organized at USC and in the greater Los Angeles area. Without a doubt, he represents the very best in musical talent that the Polish culture can truly be proud of. Should you like more information on Maciej's life and accomplishments, please visit his website at: hwww.flismac.com, as well as that of the Midnight Winds: www.midnightquintet.com


May 14th 2006, The Sedona Review

"Their youthful exuberance and inspiring artistry make excellent role models to encourage appreciation of fine music for our community youth."

KUDOS & The Red Rock Review


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The New York Times On The Web


April 6, 2005

Music Review | American Youth Symphony

Young People Strut Their Stuff

By Allan Kozinn

The American Youth Symphony, a Los Angeles training orchestra for musicians between 16 and 25, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this season, and among its festivities was a visit to Carnegie Hall on
Saturday evening. The program was, as such programs tend to be, a carefully rounded demonstration of the orchestra's strengths.


Led by Alexander Treger, the orchestra's music director, the program opened with Lera Auerbach's "Dreams and Whispers of Poseidon," a new work written for the ensemble. Ms. Auerbach, at 30, is an eloquent composer who handles an orchestra easily; in fact, for this picturesque score, with its contrasting sections of churning depths and lighter, harp-tinted dreaminess, she calls for some unusual additions, including a theremin, a musical saw and an expanded percussion array. Her language is accessible and often lyrical, but it is also invitingly sophisticated, and it yielded a work that unquestionably evoked the imagery of the title.


Mr. Treger led the orchestra in an appropriately vivid reading, and then let his players relax a bit in Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1. Here, the orchestral component was supportive if undistinguished. But the real focus was Yundi Li's fluid reading of the solo line. Mr. Li is a poetic player with a sensitive touch (but also ample power when he needs it), as well as an ear for textural clarity and an impeccable sense of line. Those qualities, notable on his handful of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, served the Chopin perfectly.


With the spotlight to itself again, the orchestra gave a superb performance of the Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony. Jenny Kim's rendering of the French horn solo in the second movement was note-perfect, and her colleagues among the brass and woodwinds contributed some admirably robust ensemble work. The orchestra responded to Mr. Treger's brisk tempos with all the energy and precision a listener would expect of a fully professional ensemble.


Sun, Feb 22, 2004 - American Youth Symphony
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

John Williams, conductor

Alexander Treger, conductor
Make no mistake, the American Youth Symphony is no kiddie orchestra.  Gustav Mahler’s titanic First Symphony requires an orchestra of enormous power – whether in execution or in expression – and received it from the AYS.  Conductor Alexander Treger succeeded in bringing out the youthful exuberance in the many climaxes.  Granted, the playing was not always sufficiently polished (the strings lacked softness and sheen in the waltzes and long slides), but the raw excitement and passion were definitely a plus.Following the tradition of celebrity guest artists on their annual gala concerts (last year was pianist Yefim Bronfmann), the AYS played the opening ceremonial fanfare, “Sound the Bells”, under John Williams – with all the brassy brashness of a Hollywood movie score.  Musically, it was pretty forgettable. Equally bold and brashy was Lera Auerbach’s Violin Concerto No. 1, commissioned by the AYS for this occasion.  The complex, exotic harmonies recall the mystical Orientalism of Puccini’s “Turandot”, particularly in the second movement, with its ghostly eerieness and spartan harmonic landscape. Much of the work’s emotional power is conveyed through the solo violin, superbly played by Philippe Quint, and features a soulful cadenza in the final movement (a brilliant touch) that emerges triumphant from the savage onslaught of the opening movement.  It is a worthwhile work that deserves wider recognitioin. 
Young and restless?  Maybe.  But what an exciting concert!



May 18, 2003 American Youth Symphony Gala Concert,
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles

Alexander Treger, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, pianist

There was a time when music education was as basic as arithmetic and sports.  Nowadays, high schools boast their football teams and cannot scrape together enough funds for a school orchestra.  In the film “They Shall Have Music” (RKO, 1942), Jascha Heifetz saves a high school orchestra from insolvency by agreeing to lend his star power at a benefit concert, playing Mendelssohn’s violin concerto.  For tonight’s gala concert, star pianist Yefim Bronfman flew into town with only two hours to spare, lending his time and talent to a good cause, playing Prokofiev’s scintillating Piano Concerto No. 2 to a wildly cheering crowd. The good cause is the American Youth Symphony, a pre-professional orchestra comprised of young musicians between the ages 16 and 24.   In addition to their own training, they also participate in school outreach program in the Los Angeles School system, bringing classical music to the other, less privileged, children.  Underwriting this whole enterprise is Ms. Flora L. Thornton, whose largesse to the Los Angeles arts and science community is felt far and wide.   Appropriately enough, the gala concert was dedicated to Ms. Thornton.  Bravissima! Given the ceremonial nature of the occasion, critiquing the performance is probably irrelevant.  Suffice it to say that the young musicians all did an admirable job, both conquering the nerves and making great music, in Glinka's Russlan and Ludmilla overture and Tchaikovsky's tone poem Francesca da Rimini.  Their families and students from local schools all witnessed something special and magical – that great art transcends social and economic boundaries. Kudos for Ms. Thornton for keeping the sound of classical music alive in Los Angeles.


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